Four tips for thriving (and surviving) during Kentucky Derby week

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Despite rainy weather, a “strong” Kentucky Derby week helped Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. report net income of $78 million in the second quarter of the year, a 12 percent increase from the same period in 2016.

In a press release, Churchill Downs said Derby week revenue was up $9 million this year.

Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen told analysts on a conference call Thursday that Derby week revenues, profits and wagering all hit record levels in 2017 – even as attendance dipped because of bad weather.

He added that the Derby’s 19 million television viewers were the most since 1989.

“We plan to continue to aggressively invest in growing the Kentucky Derby,” Carstanjen told analysts.

Churchill Downs also reported higher revenue in its racing, casino and TwinSpires segments.

The only downside was Big Fish Games, Churchill Downs’ social gaming subsidiary, where revenue dropped about 12 percent.

Churchill Downs bought Big Fish Games in December 2014, and the subsidiary is supposed to propel the company’s growth as horse racing continues a secular decline.

Carstanjen said the company remains confident in Big Fish Games’ prospects.

“It’s a segment of the market where there is opportunity long-term for stability and continued growth,” he said.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822,, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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Chris Otts reports for about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and